Former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy says Martin O’Neill’s team will be suited by their underdog tag in France this summer.
The Irish have been drawn to face Belgium, Italy and Sweden in Group E at Euro 2016 and the current Ipswich boss feels they are well equipped to exceed expectations.
McCarthy led Ireland to the World Cup in Japan and South Korean in 2002, where his team qualified for the knockout stages in spite of the manager’s public fallout with Roy Keane that resulted in the Irish skipper being sent home before a ball was kicked.
Ireland drew with Cameroon and Germany before defeating Saudi Arabia 3-0 to progress into the last 16 where they were eliminated by Spain on penalties.
Little was expected of Ireland in that tournament given the furore that had surrounded Keane’s departure.
While Giovanni Trapattoni’s team were easily beaten in all three group games at the European Championship four years ago, McCarthy is hopeful that Ireland will return to their proud tradition of over-achieving when they get to France.
“It’s reminiscent of the group we had in Poland, the group of death it was called that time and it seems to be the same again,” said McCarthy.
“Over the years we’ve always produced when we’ve been underdogs, that’s part of our make-up, part of our DNA, and it was a surprise we didn’t in Poland, so perhaps this time we will – and let’s hope we do.”
Ireland open their Euro 2016 campaign against Sweden in Paris on June 13 and they are 2.88 to win that clash, with O’Neill’s team 2.38 to qualify from Group E.